Highway 50 is one of those generous, eternal American roads that goes from coast to coast (nearly). It begins in Sacramento, California and ends in Ocean City, Maryland, spanning over 3,000 miles in the process. It’s most isolated, most desolate stretch passes through the heart of Nevada’s nearly-uninhabited desert moonscape. One section of the highway is particularly mysterious. Should a driver attempt to make it from Carson City, NV to central Utah, the route will beckon past lonely brothels, ghost towns, vintage casinos, sand, dust and endless blue skies. It’s the most desolate part of the continental United States and traversing it by car takes a certain commitment and endurance. It is 381 miles from Carson City to Great Basin National Park. This is Nevada’s Route 50, a stretch of asphalt that Life Magazine famously declared America’s Loneliest Road.
I made … Read More »
The United States of America, the second-most visited country in the world, is rather sparsely populated. In contrast to rapidly-urbanizing developing countries, the US been reverting back to a more solitary, anti-urban lifestyle since the Second World War, leaving many of our cities with lack of investment and population.
However, America still has it’s fair share of great cities- even if some feel like relics in 2013. Generally, a first-time tourist to the US may include in their itinerary Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Miami – a stop in Chicago – and onto San Diego, LA, San Francisco, maybe Portland and Seattle. Those with less time will generally stick to the east or west coast only.
Those aforementioned places are our global cities and, of course, some of the best to visit. But just as no month in China is complete without … Read More »
“Manmade deltas and concrete rivers. The south takes what the north delivers.”
-Pavement, Unfair (1996)
In the fall of 2007, Bill and I were working and living in Berkeley, California. The environment of rose gardens, soy lattes and meatless pizzas was a far cry from our Midwestern hometowns. On weekends, we needed a break from Berkeley’s froufrou.
Plunging headfirst into a mid-20s crisis, we both bought motorcycles. Bill – a purple Harley Sportster 1200cc; and myself – a cherry red Yamaha V-Star 650cc.
Riding our motorcycles in the city didn’t quite satisfy us. Going west was impossible, due to an ocean. North and south too hair-raising; so we often headed east, regressing back into true American farmland, across the Coastal mountains and into the pastoral California Delta; the Midwest of the West.
The journey would begin in Berkeley with 24 miles of freeway to get out of … Read More »
I’ve never had much desire to be financially rich. The simple luxuries that I enjoy are generally limited to the proletarian chic and rainy mornings with no obligations. Six bedrooms, a Dodge Viper, anything first-class/VIP, a young second wife, a doorman, toothy children with middle initials- those things just don’t interest me much.
However, no river long enough doesn’t contain a bend. My lifelong fiscal complacence was rocked in February of 2006, when I first stepped foot into what my friends and I still refer to as simply ‘The House’. The House that Philosophy Built. One day it will be mine.
It was a rainy February in the San Francisco Bay Area. Most Bay Area Februaries are. The late winter may be gloomy and damp, but as a result, the surrounding California countryside ripens from its summertime brown into a spectrum of electric … Read More »
Ol’ hollowed-out Detroit is in the news again, as it has recently become the largest-ever US city to file for bankruptcy. I’ve spent a lot of time in Motown and I still think about Detroit a lot. Surprisingly, I think about its odd connection to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam.
Tropical, pastel Saigon and gray, post-industrial Detroit may appear polar opposites on the surface. However, they are connected in two interesting ways.
1. Fifty years ago, Detroit led the world in personal vehicle ownership. Saigon is most likely #1 today , with 92% of trips taken on a personal vehicle, overwhelmingly the motorbike.
1950: Detroit created the automobile industry, and automobiles became a necessary part of life in Detroit; as they still are today. In the 1950s, Detroit was the USA’s wealthiest city. During that time, it’s prosperity had made it the … Read More »
For tourists to the USA, one of the most often-traveled routes is Los Angeles to Las Vegas. We have seen it in countless movies, including The Hangover, Very Bad Things and Swingers. I have spoken to many international tourists who have made this drive. Almost always, they travel straight along Interstate 15, making the 4+ hour drive as fast as they can, seeing power lines, billboards and truck stops along the way.
However, if you take a full day and the initiative to push your car off the restrictions of the 4-lane Interstate and into the depths of the desert, you will find a rewarding journey filled with surreal desertscapes and highway ruins, exposing layers of forgotten Americana that few international travelers can experience in American cities. Additional time may allow for some exploration of Joshua Tree National Park, famous for … Read More »
“Goodbye god, I’m going to Bodie” – diary entry of a little girl moving from San Francisco to Bodie
My favorite California destination to come back to again and again, Bodie is an eerie ghost town that once housed 7,000 residents and is now home to a few helpful park rangers and some squirrels. Located 8,000 feet in elevation, near the California / Nevada border, about 75 short American miles (120km) southeast of Lake Tahoe, Bodie is a perfect tie-in to any trip to the more-famous lake. Getting there is half the fun, as you drive south through some canyons and finally veer off onto a hairy 13-mile dirt road into the heart of the high desert landscape.
Bodie thrived in the 1870s, when prospectors predicted it would bring enormous amounts of gold. While the town did produce some gold, production quickly declined. At … Read More »
California’s nickname, The Golden State, comes not only from the gold rush of 1849, but is also inspired from the autumnal golden and yellow hue of the fields and hills, and the springtime poppy blast that rewards residents for surviving the soggy winter rains. This annual flower explosion could only be described by The Insane Clown Posse as a “miracle”.
You should visit; and, first things first: it’s all about timing. The bloom will only last a few weeks and often peak unexpectedly, depending on the amount of rain received in the weeks and days before the flower season. The impressiveness of the flowers is different each season, but the flowers do tend to consistently gather in the same locations each year.
I have two favorite places that I return to each spring season when I am in California:
Death Valley – The flowers … Read More »
Los Angeles is a big valley full of mystery. Most Americans have grown to view Los Angeles as an uncomfortable patchwork of suburbs and expressways. Images of riots, earthquakes, and endless traffic have given the city a notorious reputation throughout the states. Tourists unfamiliar with the city’s physical dysfunction will often make overambitious itineraries and then quickly find that getting around is half the schedule. So, how can you simplify your visit and make the most of LA’s complexities?
One great place to start is downtown Los Angeles, as it is compact, walkable, fascinating, and regularly overlooked in guidebooks and discussion of LA.
As Eastern and Midwestern Americans flocked west to Los Angeles in the early 20th Century, they built the young new city to resemble what they had back home: tight, organized urban grids with well-defined sidewalks, street trees, squares … Read More »